Republicans still feel education is their key to success in 2024

In the lead-up to the 2022 midterms, Republicans campaigned on a mix of education priorities. Mask mandates, transgender female athletes, and critical race theory were the main talking points among the GOP candidates. Conventional wisdom around midterms suggested that the right would have a huge advantage. After all, midterms are usually seen as a referendum on the sitting president (who was unpopular) and the economy (which was weak.) However, as election night came to a close, Republicans had to be disappointed.

Democrats actually gained a seat in the Senate, and although Republicans did take back the House of Representatives, even some of those races were closer than predicted. The education platform delivered some school board wins but also some high-profile losses.

At first glance, it would appear that Republicans are the ones who need to go back to the drawing board for 2024. However, a quick look at education headlines shows conservatives are still attempting to draw from the well of angry parents.

Why is this?

The first reason is that the platform was not a bust. Education might not have been a lever for all of the races, but there were certainly candidates who saw success with the strategy regionally in 2022. Additionally, some of the candidates running in 2024 were the ones who successfully campaigned on education in 2022. An example of this is Presidential hopeful Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, as Florida was the ultimate bright spot for the GOP on election night. It only makes sense for DeSantis to double down on the strategy because he has seen nothing but success from it, and his home state of Florida is arguably the most important state to carry in a Presidential election.

Education is also a platform that Republicans feel can yield results in suburban areas… areas that don’t always receive a lot of attention from the GOP.

Often, national strategy is dictated by hyper-local sentiments, and education is no exception. Republicans are not trying to appeal to voters in every state; they are looking at the math and trying to go deeper into their base while also trying to pick off a few moderates who are upset about critical race theory and Lia Thomas in the process. It remains to be seen if this will work, but it very well could.

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